Love by name. Loathe by nature. A self-admittedly polarizing character, there’s something remarkably admirable about the rock star, actress and all-round disciple of chaos.
Her attitude, a nuclear laissez-faire toward fame since the death of her husband, Kurt Cobain, has enraged and entranced the masses – from those who revile what they call a parasitic existence off the memory of the late Nirvana frontman, (now 20 years since his death), to the supporters who stand behind the mother of his only child, Frances Bean, now 21, and her struggles with depression and addiction.
There have been highs, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in the 1997 film, The People vs Larry Flynt, and the mainstream success in which she garnered three Grammy’s for the hit album, Celebrity Skin with her band Hole; and many lows – from suicide attempts to the loss of custody of her daughter, Frances, and the flop of her solo album, America’s Sweetheart.
But one has to admire the platinum blonde’s tenacity and strong ability to always bounce back. “You just got to keep going,” she cackles in that muddled “Portlandian” drawl, speaking from her home in the Hollywood hills. “I see everything bad and good that I’ve done in life as all part of the experience. It makes you who you are.”
About to embark on a guest role in the seventh and final season of the wildly popular FX series, Sons of Anarchy, which premieres September 9, 2014, Love will play the role of lead character Jax’s oldest son Abel’s preschool teacher, who appears in episode four. Sitting with the fascinating 49-year-old, she speaks of reconciliation with surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, difficulties in taking on Hollywood for the second time, and her daily motivation.
LOVE: Let’s see how the single does – if it does well, we’ll add on dates. It’s like roulette. In this industry, right now, with no marketing and no Katy Perry or Gaga budget, fuck yeah, it’s just like gambling.
STRIPLV: Tell me about the new single, “You Know My Name”.
LOVE: Well, it’s obviously self-referential. I don’t know… it’s a three-minute punk song, the other side (“Wedding Day”) is really good, too, but it’s like I was going to put that out as the single. But I was listening to it in the car, and it got radio feedback and it’s like roulette. I don’t mind about the radio feedback, because both songs are really good. It doesn’t have words like translucent, asphyxiate. It’s rock, it’s just rock, you know. It’s not rocket science, except that it is, in a sense, that I wish Micko [Larkin] and me had written it when I was 19. You know, it’s kind of self-referencing… I was kind of thinking about it yesterday. I don’t really talk about… I never really talk about what songs mean. It’s not really my style. I don’t know, I can’t answer that very well.
STRIPLV: What’s the meaning behind “Wedding Day”?
LOVE: “Wedding Day” is more… it’s nastier. This is a ‘me’ song, “Wedding Day” is a ‘you’ song. There’s a ‘fuck you’ to this song (“You Know My Name”), but there’s a major ‘fuck you’ to that song. I was very very angry at someone, and so I dumped it all into this song and it’s nastier, got more curse words in it, which is why radio didn’t like it so much. Gets to the chorus a little later, and the chorus is a really good payoff – it’s not as immediate, [whoosh], hook you in. I thought it was, because I loved it. It’s six months old, when we record like 18 of them. Just demoed them, but I just didn’t find any of them to be killer, and if I’m going to put something out, they need to be killer, immediate good rock tracks. A lot of it was like, I listened to the new Queens of the Stone Age. It was kind of like that and I’m not going to get away with that. It needed to be punk, fast. I got a great text from Billy Joe Armstrong: ‘Oh, welcome to my world, I just heard your single.’ It obviously passed the Billy Joe test in being punk enough. It’s punk pop – it’s what I grew up on.
STRIPLV: Does playing on stage still have that same feeling for you?
LOVE: I’m in my element. I’m one of those people who likes myself on stage better than I like myself in real life. It’s not that I don’t like myself – I know who I am on stage. It’s just stayed the same – I don’t get nervous, I enjoy it, you know?
STRIPLV: Tell about Kurt and Nirvana’s recent induction into the Hall of Fame.
LOVE: That was so heavy. It was so major and such a big thing. I think though, it was really beautiful. I wasn’t even going to go. Somebody very wise, who’s a former manager and now a possible future manager of mine said: “That was a really heavy night.” I haven’t seen those dudes since the funeral, and even then, we weren’t talking to each other. It’s nice to put that shit away.
STRIPLV: Does it make you think you should have forgiven and forgotten long ago?
LOVE: I’m mixed. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to happen till then. I can’t overanalyze it, it’s just like, and you can’t put it in a paragraph or a photo of us slamming each other till the ends of the earth for the last twenty years. Maybe it was the way we were all coping with the situation.
STRIPLV: And Dave Grohl, in his speech, said it was like you were all family.
LOVE: Yeah, and there’s always a black sheep. [laughs]
STRIPLV: Did you enjoy giving your own speech?
LOVE: I didn’t give a good speech – I was too emotional. And I was really not talking to the punters, I was talking to the room, as well. I wish I had said: “And as far as the money goes, it comes out of your pocket and into mine, back into your pocket and into mine, fuck it all! I don’t give a shit, I don’t care.” It’s one thing I wanted to say. Springsteen did a really good speech when he was inducted, about the Pink Cadillac, and the Black Cadillac and the Green Cadillac, and they took the Cadillacs away.
STRIPLV: Why was Frances missing?
LOVE: Frances had walking pneumonia, she really did, but then she went to Coachella three days later and made it worse. There’s all this cool speculation about it. She might have been afraid to go. I live four houses down from her – I went to see her and she was definitely very ill. I don’t know why she went to Coachella, because she had a hundred and one fever when she went. So, I really think she missed an evening she should have gone to, but if she’s too sick, she’s too sick.
STRIPLV: Does it bother you that you’re forever known as Kurt Cobain’s widow, more than anything else?
LOVE: I certainly… I’ve been in love since Kurt died. I’ve had deep relationships. I almost got remarried twice, but I didn’t. And sometimes wonder if I should have, in that moment, I might still, I don’t know. That was what, twenty years ago? He died and he’s a great love, but not the only love. And it’s not like you only get one. But technically, I am a widow. On the passport thing… (and I don’t know why they have that), but they do: ‘Are you married?’ And I always have to write ‘widow’, which is fucking… it’s annoying – it came to me at a young age.